Okay I don’t to want to sound bias or self center. I’m not any of these things. But what I am is a Chef, a young business owner trying to make it and provide the best that I can with what I have. I’ve walk the walk, I’ve spent the money, the time, the blood, sweat and tears and even took low paying positions with chefs I thought I would respect to learn the art of cooking while all the while, learning to become a Chef. I’m not the best, but I am good enough, capable and inspired. I trust my palate and those who have tasted my food, my real cooking, not just my deli fare, can tell you that I know my way around a kitchen, ingredients, equipment and techniques.
Several months ago I listen to one of my customers and embarked into making a, Frita. I agreed. The problem was that I had no idea of the magical, top-notch burger this was. Although for years, it was treated as the burger’s uglier cousin, for the Cuban and Miamian community, thinks anything but. The “Cuban Burger” is simple, Ground Beef, Chorizo of some sort, highly seasoned, Onions (usually semi caramelized while the Patty cooks) tons of Potato Sticks and sometimes a condiment like Ketchup or Mayo on a small Cuban roll. It’s small, it’s cheap and delicious.
The highly seasoned Meat Patty with crisp Julianne Potatoes and almost caramelized Onions on a small Cuban Bread Bun leaves you salivating for more as you wisely try to figure out how you will clean the Paprika red Grease off your fore arm.
I did what any Chef does while doing research. I looked up the top ten best Fritas, I ate, I tasted, I traveled a bit and did it all over again until I did my own version of what I felt would be an upgraded, Frita. I did well enough to compete in the Frita competition at the Croqueta Palooza which is hosted by now friend and Miami Food Blogger, Sef Gonzalez, a.k.a, Burger Beast. My tasting Frita journey came to a delicious finish at the end of the competition and I know now by pure experience and much devoted time who has the best Frita in Miami, or how Burger Beast calls it, “Best Frita en el Mundo.” This list is different from the list I saw during my research. So here it is
Plato’s Deli uses 100% black Angus beef and Cantipalo, that’s it with just a few other spices, to enhance, but not to take away from the flavor of the patty. Always with melted cheese and caramelized onions that are smothered by Julianne Papitas and a smoked Paprika and Cantipalo Aioli with a touch of Lemon Zest Vinaigrette. All this rests on a soft Brioche Bun. Redefined, yet balanced and still a memorable aroma and flavor. Not bad for the biggest underdog in the competition. Come by and visit us in Medley on Mondays for the Double Frita combo special, and if you mention this blog, the special is a dollar cheaper.
It’s all about that magic liquid they submerge the Fritas with while it’s getting seared in the flat top, always order it with cheese and don’t worry about the Papitas, they are loaded and crisp! Did you know, El Mago met President Obama who visited his restaurant? After eating this Frita, I can see why the magician behind the grill get’s the love he so rightfully deserves.
3 words, Media. Noche. Bun. Yep, you heard me, Chef/ Owner Andy makes his own Media Noche Burger Bun for his Frita. It’s golden, soft and embodies and sense of awe. I’m told it’s the same Media Noche dough they use for their regular bread, but I don’t know, I thinks there is an extra dash of love. And don’t bother buying some of the bread, they won’t sale. Smart Andy, really smart!… Oh yeah, the Frita is just as great!
If you don’t know the relationship between Magic Box and Mago, then go do your research (but do it on Saturdays at Mago’s. Only day they sell their to die for Crispy Chicharrones ) because the magic they put in these Fritas has Houdini scratching his head. You have to try their 7 Meat Frita! There, I said it, that’s all you need to know, go on now.
I had a dream, that one day, there will Pincho Factories equally opened in the south Florida. Were every race can come together and participate in great Fritanga burgers and Pincho eating meals… You get the reality, they are the BOM! And from time to time, they carry the Frita as a special. Noff said!
Although their restaurant is not yet opened, this Finka team did a great jobs in making their tasty version of a Fritas with their “Korean Barbecue” Short rib sliders. A hint of roasted Pineapple in there and toasted bread made me want to get to know Amelia a little better. Which sources tell me it’s the owner’s grandmother. Way to go Grams!
Off the HOOK! Awesome small Fritas with just the right soft bread, dazzled with Papitas and secrete seasoning. I can’t wait to try the rest their menu. But for now, the Fritas with the touch of pickles and cute Tomatoes on top, do the whole place justice.
What more can I say, 5 year winner of the Frita Showdown competition. Frankly, El Rey’s was the first Frita I tried in which many consider (along with Mago) the staple of what an original Frita is. With several locations and a food truck, they are making their mark selling these classic comforts. Just make sure you buy some fried Cheese when you get there… Just saying…
I got to give it up for them at the competition, they almost brought their whole bakery. Their Frita is unique because they embraced the Chorizo idea. Their patty is almost a pork sausage with spices of various kinds, lovely. Their Croquettas a wicked good too!
- Señor Morra
Okay, I know your asking yourself who this is. Well, it’s the father of the man who introduced me to Fritas. He does not have a restaurant here therefore I placed him last. But he did in Cuba, a very successful one I’m told. That is, until the Castro regime realized Mr. Morra’s potential/ income when he went to purchase a brand new Volkswagen in cash and at full price. Castro’s men began following him around and spying on him. Eventually Mr. Morra, like many others, was robbed of his freedom forcing him to close his successful restaurant and having to move to a strange country with nothing in his pocket. My friend told me my Frita is similar to his dad’s, although he still has yet to give me his father’s recipe. All I know is that he uses Cantipalo and sometimes, a dry sausage similar Cantipalo.
It’s a fast food. A poor man’s snack that is gaining its respectable recognition through the voice of El Mago and El Rey and the quintessential events that Sef Gonzalez creates. Brave souls like those of El Mago and El Rey have made a living for decades, not only feeding others, but also their family, selling something that many others over look. Maybe one day it may shine and get the proper recognition the simple Fritas deserves.
Look I’m not Cuban, Heck, if we want to get in to the blood details of genealogy, I’m not even Hispanic. But I am a Chef. I have no borders, bridges or walls when I see food. I simply enjoy and ask myself, “how can I do this differently?” Sometimes, I won’t ask that question. I don’t want to be nor am I trying to be bias by putting my restaurant in the top of the list. I’m going by what I tasted, what I experienced and what many others agreed with. At the end, the taste is in the pudding, or should I say, the Frita, come and savor it.